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Importance of Coral Reefs in Marine Environment

Corals are marine invertebrates belonging to the Anthozoa class of the phylum Cnidaria. A coral reef is a large collection of individual microscopic corals referred to as polyps. Coral reefs play a vital role in the underwater ecosystem.

First, coral reefs inhabit marine species. Coral reefs offer shelter and protection to a great percentage of aquatic life (Allemand et al.,2019). Thousands of fish species and plants call the coral reefs home. Nonetheless, coral reefs provide breeding grounds for a vast number of fish species. Also, most of the miniaturized fish species seek refuge in the coral reefs during adverse environmental conditions and climate change.

Second, coral reefs act as a natural shield or barrier protecting coastal beaches, cities, and communities residing around the ocean from waves and currents. Coral reefs protect most people neighboring the oceans and seas from storm surges and waves (Allemand et al.,2019). Coral reefs offer not only protection to human beings but also coastlines. They safeguard the shorelines from storms, locks, and erosion. Coral reefs have ridges that act as barriers that greatly reduce wave energy, curbing threats such as tsunamis.

Third, coral reefs act as a source of food for both human beings and fish. Coral reefs are enriched with nutrients such as proteins which aid in the growth of the body and repair and the synthesis of cells. In addition, coral reefs are a major food source for fish species. Many fisheries worldwide rely on coral reefs as a source of food.

Fourth, coral reefs are used in the manufacture of human medicine. Living organisms inhabiting reefs produce chemical compounds used to manufacture drugs such as anticancer agent Ara-C and cytarabine. Furthermore, cardiovascular diseases, illnesses relating to the skin, and chronic diseases such as leukemia can be suppressed using drugs manufactured from coral reefs.

The tourism industry also greatly benefits from coral reefs. Coral reefs ecosystems are biologically diverse and economically valuable, for they support both local and global economies. Through tourism and activities related to tourism, such as scuba diving, swimming, and surfing, coral reefs yield immense amounts of money (Hoegh-Guldberg et al., 2018). The beautiful nature of the reefs attracts tourists, thus increasing a country’s tourism income. The reefs also employ thousands of people, thus raising the local citizens’ living standards.

However, the lives of coral reefs and the marine ecosystem are threatened. The following strategies can be implemented to protect the reefs and ensure their continued existence (Comte et al.,2019). Tourists visiting coral reefs should practice safe and responsible snorkeling and diving. Anchoring boats on the reefs or touching them should be avoided as it can damage or even kill the delicate coral animals.

Environmentally-friendly practices such as recycling and proper disposal of trash should be encouraged. Waste products dumped in large water bodies endanger the lives of coral reefs, and, therefore, it should be avoided at all costs (Comte et al.,2019). Disposal of trash should be done with a lot of care and caution to prevent the debris from being washed away into the oceans.

Means of transport that lead to air pollution should be discouraged. The use of vehicles powered by fuel engines should be minimized as they emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, thus polluting it (Comte et al.,2019). The emissions contribute to a rise in ocean temperature and increase the acidity of oceans, thus impeding coral growth.


Allemand, D., & Osborn, D. (2019). Ocean acidification impacts on coral reefs: From sciences to solutions. Regional Studies in Marine Science28, 100558.

Comte, A., & Pendleton, L. H. (2018). Management strategies for coral reefs and people under global environmental change: 25 years of scientific research. Journal of Environmental Management209, 462-474.

Hoegh-Guldberg, O., Kennedy, E. V., Beyer, H. L., McClennen, C., & Possingham, H. P. (2018). Securing a long-term future for coral reefs. Trends in Ecology & Evolution33(12), 936-944.


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